The act of issuing a show-cause notice by PEMRA, to the Urdu drama serial Udaari encapsulates the Pakistani leadership’s confusion where the media is concerned. The serial has being lauded for daring to speak about child sexual abuse and its producer, Momina Duraid, has claimed that PEMRA was misled into issuing the unreasonable notice. On Friday, PEMRA served a notice to HUM TV seeking an explanation for showing “immoral” scenes. Duraid has responded that they had very responsibly carved and executed the concept, with prime focus on educating our public and children for a cause. Moreover, she expected the regulatory bodies to encourage them.

Yes, scenes that depict abuse are shocking to audiences, but they should not be censored. These scenes are not created to excite people, but to say that the act depicted is immoral. It does not mean that the discussion of the act is immoral as well. In our simplistic version of what should be “acceptable” we are closing all doors or civility and debate by labelling a serial about child abuse as “immoral”. PEMRA has also claimed that “psychiatrists believe such acts can evoke sinful sentiments of evil minds in society”, a preposterous claim. There are so many other serials that depict shootings, beatings, killings, verbal abuse, and even rape. These are all moral vices, that form conflict in plots, and are all contrasted with moral virtues like love, compassion, justice and forgiveness. That is how stories are told, with heroes who fight and protect and villains who commit immoral acts. If people do not have the common sense to know that when a crime is depicted in a drama it does not mean that that crime is being encouraged, then they should not be watching television at all and need a thorough moral and literary re-education.

Television has all the potential to not only influence masses but also educate them, if PEMRA can let it.